Just had another thought regarding those scheming chatbots that are coming for your job.
I’d hoped the last post here would have ameliorated some of the terror many copywriters (and marketers who write their own stuff) feel about AI’s rather sudden appearance as a very useable, often spot-on option for written content, customer service texting, email, and even advertising.
Of course, it didn’t.
The freak out seems to be continuing unabated.
So here’s the ultimate answer to the question “Are chatbots coming for your copywriting job?”:
Maybe. If you insist on remaining a low-level copywriter.
And no. If you simply do what I’ve been coaching writers to do all along: Move up a couple of levels in the game.
And get your shit together as a Top Level dude or dudette.
Look — only the lowest levels of copywriters “just” write copy.
Before the chatbots arrived, you could even make a decent living at knocking out quick content, easy emails, and brief unexciting ads.
But that’s no way for a writer to live. (It’s barely a way for a robot to live.)
To move up a level, you have to load up your brain
with everything relevant to making maketing campaigns sizzle.
The immediate level above Grunt Writer (just writing the really easy stuff that the chatbots are making obsolete as we speak)… is the stage I call The Seasoned, Experienced Pro: This is the copywriter who will remain pretty much immune from having a robot take their job for a very long time. Maybe forever.
Why? Because… at this advanced stage, you confidently bring real marketing savvy along with you to any gig.
You understand more than just pounding out words. You have a deep understanding of classic salesmanship — exactly what we’ve been teaching folks in our courses for over 20 years now:
The essentials of how email, social media, print, broadcast and other media actually works.
The details of persuading humans to buy when they hop online to watch a video…
… or go into their inbox to see who’s sending them stuff…
… or listen to a podcast pushing product…
… or any other venue where the copy/script/visuals are essential to the sales “dance”.
How in the world can you ever reach this level of copywriting and marketing prowess? One of the fastest ways to zoom from clueless newbie to respected pro is by learning the Simple Writing System. We’ve got a whole wall of testimonials from successful writers who will swear by this training.
Every job you work on while coming up the ranks should be filling your Bag of Tricks with crucial things you’ve learned from the experience. Like:
The way humans will often promise one thing, then do another.
Or go Radio Silent on you without warning… only to show up later absolutely desperate for what you’re offering.
Or get this-close to buying, but never let the deal go through… and even they aren’t sure why they’re dilly-dallying.
Or — even more important when there’s money on the line — why they will refuse to buy… until presented with the same ad copy but with a slightly different headline. (This is the kind of stuff rookies just shrug at, cuz they don’t understand how salesmanship works. But for a seasoned veteran — it’s just another step in the dance. Their intuition will light up when they know a particular ad shouldn’t have bombed… and will gleefully test multiple other headlines, put the opening paragraphs through the editing meat grinder, or take the offer out back and spank it until it loses whatever elements were holding up sales. That’s what a top pro copywriter will do.)
(And they don’t bat an eye when they realize it just required a single word change in the headline, either. Or a few bucks off the price. Or any of a whole basket-full of other editing choices they know about…
… cuz they’re experienced.)
PLUS: You have the chops to create a “voice” for a biz that sets it apart from every competitor. (Like I did with the notorious Doc O’Leary character in the golf market. He was based on one of the owners of the biz, but I gave him the voice in their ads they would use for the next 35 years — a folksy, hilarious, self-deprecating nut who loved golf with unreasonable passion. The exact kind of guy you’d LOVE to play a round with… and whose emails and letters you dive into with gusto, because you can’t wait to see the new discovery ol’ Doc wants to share now.) (I titled every ad with “Dear Fellow Golf Nut”, just to make clear all of us — Doc, the reader, and anyone else associated with the deal — were hot for the game.)
The voice, the salesmanship, the humor, the battle-tested intuition, and the deep knowledge and experience.
That’s what makes a real professional copywriter worth so much…
… and what puts you out of reach of the conniving chatbots coming for your gig.
If you need to level up your skills in a hurry and on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel.
Finally, there’s the ultimate level of copywriting — the one above all the others:
The legendary A List copywriter.
These are the top folks in the entire advertising and marketing game. You will hear their names mentioned as soon as you start talking to other copywriters. Even clients will talk about them with reverence.
Because the A Lister’s all vibrate with the intricate skills of classic salesmanship…
… experienced in both outrageous (and confirmed) success…
… and the confrontations with failure that teach you the lessons that lead to that kind of success.
Every A Lister in the game can tell a client exactly what they’re doing wrong, at a glance.
And give a detailed plan for fixing the problems…
… while opening the profit spigot to full on gusher.
Cuz they’ve seen it all.
They’ve encountered every problem there is in biz, and made it all better. Time after time.
The A Lister is actually…
A Battle-Tested Consultant…
Who Also Writes Brilliant Copy.
Show me the chatbot that can sit across from a frustrated (or pissed off) (or scared shitless) client…
… and immediately figure out where the hidden problems are (and how to quickly fix them)…
… while laying out a clear, step-by-step customized plan to blow the competition out of the water and quickly dominate the niche…
… and I’ll willingly submit to my Robot Overlords.
And go do something else for the rest of my days.
Wonder no longer what sets apart guys like us — the Halberts, the Kennedys, the Abrahams, and all my other colleaguess who ever achieved the cherished A Level — apart from the “regular” copywriters out there.
It’s the level you should aspire to every day you’re in the copywriting gig.
You can achieve this level ONLY through front-line immersion…
…and through studying everything the A Listers offer
as teaching materials.
Looking for lots of examples of results-getting copy that the chatbots can never touch? Get your hands on some of my best ads right here.
I know it can be frustrating to a rookie when the answer is “get more experience, and use it to move up a level”.
But the writers I’ve worked with over the decades who DID move levels…
… were all obsessed with becoming both the best word-slinger they could be…
… and also the most knowledgeable MARKETER in every room they enter.
Hey, you’re in advertising — the most vicious game out there.
Cuz there’s money at stake.
Success doesn’t happen just because you lust after it with all your heart.
Y’all need skills.
And experience that you learn from.
The AI bots can’t touch that shit.
P.S. tl;dr: The very best writers alive bring critical thinking, vast experience, a voice, and both inside- and outside-the-box insight to every gig they accept.
They understand salesmanship on a human scale… which requires empathy, warmth, humor...
… and a the rare ability to make accurate decisions on what to do next to make a biz successful. That’s the consulting part of being an A Lister.
All tested over and over again in the real world of advertising and marketing.
Tattoo this on your forearm: “The bots can’t touch that shit.”
P.P.S. That photo up top?
It’s the great Gary Halbert going into “story mode” at one of the Hot Seat Seminars we produced down in Key West for several years in the late 80s and early 90s (of the last century)…
… where the entire concept of the A List copywriter began to gel for me. (I got to coin the term “A List Writer” later, when I was penning my Marketing Rebel Rant newsletters from 2001-2006. Such a heady time to be alive and on the cutting edge of the biz world.)
That’s me on the first stool, by the way… trying to suppress laughter, cuz I’d heard Gary’s stories a little too often… and knew the weirdo punch line was about to be slammed down hard in the next seconds… outraging and shocking everyone in the room. The guy was a force of nature. (Gary and I loved to mess around with each other’s head — on stage — during these events. We’d win if we could make the other guy blow snot out of his nose trying to push down a big belly laugh. We were about even over the years.) (God, I miss that big ugly guy. And those seminars were the launch pad for my own entry into the “wait, you’re that guy?” level.)
(That’s eventual A Lister David Deutsch sitting just behind Gary.)